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Francisco José Paños Expósito
Expertos y profanos en la Suma de geografía de Fernández de Enciso (1519)
Supervisor/s: José Pardo Tomás
Date of defense: 10-09-2015

This paper raises the topic of expert knowledge in the hispanic world of the XVI century using the work Suma de geografía by Martín Fernández de Enciso as a significant example. The author used classical authorities, personal experience and indigenous testimonies to legitimize his exposition of technical and natural knowledge as a true knowledge. Experience could correct classical authorities and is the main source of information about the New World, but Enciso distinguishes clearly between his own experience and that of the Indians, which will require of more evidence than their words. In a context of reconfiguration of the limits between experts and lay people due to the novelty of America and transoceanic navigation, Enciso places himself as an intermediary between bookish and practical knowledge because of both his training as jurist and his experience in the Indies. In this way, with the publication of the Suma —a navigational and geographical text book—, Enciso intends to cover a basic need of the Spanish Empire: to have well-trained pilots to cope with the technical problems of the navigation to the West Indies.

 

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